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The Battle of Life. Charles Dickens

Why, on this day, the great battle was fought on this ground. On this ground where we now sit, where I saw my two girls dance this morning, where the fruit has just been gathered for our eating from these trees, the roots of which are struck in Men, not earth, - so many lives were lost, that within my recollection, generations afterwards, a churchyard full of bones, and dust of bones, and chips of cloven skulls, has been dug up from underneath our feet here. Yet not a hundred people in that battle knew for what they fought, or why; not a hundred of the inconsiderate rejoicers in the victory, why they rejoiced. Not half a hundred people were the better for the gain or loss. Not half-a-dozen men agree to this hour on the cause or merits; and nobody, in short, ever knew anything distinct about it, but the mourners of the slain. Serious, too!′ said the Doctor, laughing. ′Such a system!′

′But, all this seems to me,′ said Alfred, ′to be very serious.′

′Serious!′ cried the Doctor. ′If you allowed such things to be serious, you must go mad, or die, or climb up to the top of a mountain, and turn hermit.′

′Besides - so long ago,′ said Alfred.

′Long ago!′ returned the Doctor. ′Do you know what the world has been doing, ever since? Do you know what else it has been doing? I don′t!′

′It has gone to law a little,′ observed Mr. Snitchey, stirring his tea.

′Although the way out has been always made too easy,′ said his partner.

′And you′ll excuse my saying, Doctor,′ pursued Mr. Snitchey, ′having been already put a thousand times in possession of my opinion, in the course of our discussions, that, in its having gone to law, and in its legal system altogether, I do observe a serious side - now, really, a something tangible, and with a purpose and intention in it - ′

Clemency Newcome made an angular tumble against the table, occasioning a sounding clatter among the cups and saucers.

′Heyday! what′s the matter there?′ exclaimed the Doctor.

′It′s this evil-inclined blue bag,′ said Clemency, ′always tripping up somebody!′

′With a purpose and intention in it, I was saying,′ resumed Snitchey, ′that commands respect. Life a farce, Dr. Jeddler? With law in it?′

The Doctor laughed, and looked at Alfred.

′Granted, if you please, that war is foolish,′ said Snitchey. ′There we agree. For example. Here′s a smiling country,′ pointing it out with his fork, ′once overrun by soldiers - trespassers every man of ′em - and laid waste by fire and sword. He, he, he! The idea of any man exposing himself, voluntarily, to fire and sword! Stupid, wasteful, positively ridiculous; you laugh at your fellow- creatures, you know, when you think of it! But take this smiling country as it stands. Think of the laws appertaining to real property; to the bequest and devise of real property; to the mortgage and redemption of real property; to leasehold, freehold, and copyhold estate; think,′ said Mr. Snitchey, with such great emotion that he actually smacked his lips, ′of the complicated laws relating to title and proof of title, with all the contradictory precedents and numerous acts of parliament connected with them; think of the infinite number of ingenious and interminable chancery suits, to which this pleasant prospect may give rise; and acknowledge, Dr.

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